As I e-mailed to my good friend Linda, who lives in Walnut Creek, my blogging has been slowed by the following: our late arrival to our destinations, poor wi-fi and internet connections, and great wine. There, I’ve said it.
Each night upon arriving at our hotel/motel/bed and breakfast, after we have unloaded our suitcases (or should I say, the Judge has hauled my trunk of sweaters, pants, shoes, coats, make-up, curling irons, and other stuff I will leave to your imagination), the Judge has dutifully trundled out to our rental SUV and explored our ice cooler for a chilled bottle of Wente Riva Ranch, my current favorite chardonnay. He pops the cork and we have a glass or two and then find somewhere to eat.
We left Arches and Moab in a beeline back to Highway 50 and drove as fast as we could toward Gunnison, Colorado, a small college town which sits at 7700 feet above sea level. On our way, we were treated to more landscapes that soothed our eyes, eyes still trying to moisten themselves and readjust after a desert dryness of stark red rock.
We were encouraged to look for the beautiful Gunnison River but were flabbergasted to see the River of Sheep on their way home.
The local mules had heard we were coming.
The Harvest Moon herself was on stage tonight, about a week after the Autumnal Equinox, so we hurried out to eat. Despite its gritty name, The Trough delivered a marvelous meal of trout almondine (with due respects to Julia Child), perfectly steamed vegetables, and The Judge partook of his usual dessert choice: vanilla ice cream. We were tucked in just as Ms. Moon danced the can-can and revealed her best side.
The next morning, we drove up to a place called Almont because even though The Judge had crushed his middle finger in a tractor-boulder intersection just three days before our trip, he still wanted to go fishing. So he did.
He left with a guide and I was left to my own devices. Adjacent to the Almont Fly Shop, is Almont Lodge Dining room, where they were serving breakfast. I found a small table, ordered coffee and a modest breakfast and began reading the history of the lodge. I learned that the city and lodge were named after a horse–Almont–the greatest trotter of his generation and a champion of the Hambletonian.
I was alone with big ears, eavesdropping on all conversation that morning. Turns out that Ben and Lindsey–a darling couple sitting behind me–were doing the same. Modesty was Ben’s best friend and although he shared that he had just nailed down a job in a Coloradan police department, he had spent last summer in El Paso, working with the FBI. They had been in the area to mountain bike in Crested Butte. In only 20 minutes, they could have been my kids. We broached and crossed more territory than the Judge and I had traversed in three days. By the way Ben, if you are reading this, please follow my advice: keep a journal and write a book.
We left bright and early for Kansas, on our way down the Arkansas River canyon.
We are only 40 miles from the Kansas border and need a cup of coffee. Luckily, we find a local coffee shop right on Highway 50.
While I was waiting for my coffee, I struck up a conversation with Jim, a dentist and his wife. Salt of the earth is an understatement in describing these people. Hard-working, earnest, and dear are better words.
On our way to the Kansas border, hay coils, stacks, and bales decorate each side of the highway. Dead trees remind us of the fragility of life.